Girls can play rugby: sport and the rights of the girl child

Rugby is a sport that brings people together through teamwork, the love of learning new skills and engaging in competition. Girls participating in ChildFund Pass It Back are taught more than how to play rugby; the program teaches them valuable life skills that can change their perspectives, beliefs and ultimately, their lives. 

In this blog, we will explore the life changing impact rugby has on girls, as it raises awareness about gender equality, gives them increased confidence, provides them with an opportunity to play organised sport, teaches valuable leadership skills and fosters a sense of belonging.

Rugby gives girls new perspectives on gender equality

Over half of all players and coaches taking part in ChildFund Pass It Back are girls and young women. A key part of the program’s curriculum is a focus on gender equality. 

On the field, girls have the opportunity to take up leadership roles, and participate in the game on an equal footing with their male peers, teaching them one valuable lesson: they can do anything, just like the boys. 

Lar is a player from Laos. Prior to joining ChildFund Pass It Back, Lar thought that “men had more rights than women” however since participating in the program she says: “I know more about gender equality – that women also have the same rights as men, and that women can do things just like men.” This is only one example of how girls have developed the awareness to claim the equality that is rightfully theirs. 

Rugby gives girls increased confidence

Girls in developing communities are often voiceless and can feel ignored, impacting their sense of worth and confidence. ChildFund Pass It Back encourages all players to participate in team discussions, voice their opinions and feel supported. 

Rob Vickeram, Ex-England Sevens Rugby Captain, commentator and sports performance and productivity coach believes that rugby “gives quiet people a voice, shy people confidence, withdrawn people a team”. The team environment of ChildFund Pass It Back facilitates the sharing of opinions, which helps players gain confidence.

Rugby presents new opportunities for girls to play organised sport

In developing communities, organised sports can be male-dominated, and may not be seen as an appropriate activity for girls. Therefore, many girls and young women can miss out on the physical, social and emotional benefits that sport provides. 

ChildFund Pass It Back provides a valuable opportunity for girls to take part in physical activity, giving them the same resourcing, encouragement and support as their male counterparts. 

Lan from Vietnam has followed her newfound passion for rugby to become a coach. Lan says that the program has made her realise that girls should have the same opportunities to take part in organised sport. “Girls are never told that they have the right to play. Sport is generally seen as something just for men and boys, not for women and girls. I learnt that women can play sports and become leaders.”

Rugby equips girls with strong leadership skills

Rugby creates leaders both on and off the field. ChildFund Pass It Back’s integrated rugby and life skills curriculum includes learning modules which focus on improving leadership skills. Female players can take these skills to become coaches and inspire a new generation of players in their local community.. 

Bounpasong from Laos, talks about how ChildFund Pass It Back has impacted her personally: “I speak to more people and learn from different people’s experiences how to be a leader. Now, I use my leadership skills in my team training.”

Rugby helps girls find a sense of belonging

Sport provides a safe, encouraging space for girls to assemble and create new connections. It’s during training where they can develop a sense of belonging, in a supportive environment, while forming new friendships around a common passion. 

Alex Newsome from the NSW Waratahs says:: “The bonds that are created through shared experiences in sport creates friendships and a sense of belonging that is unrivaled.” 

Lao from Laos is in agreement:  “Before I began playing rugby I only knew people in my small village. Now I have friends around the world.”

Rugby expands girls’ horizons, and introduces them to a range of new friends, including people in their own community they may not otherwise speak to.

Give more girls the chance to experience the life-changing impact of rugby

Rugby has the power to provide invaluable life skills and a sense of empowerment to girls and young women in developing countries. 

The opportunities and benefits that sport offers that can change girls’ perspectives and beliefs, about the world and their own potential to succeed in it.  

If you would like to change girls’ lives for the better, donate today to ChildFund Pass It Back and help bring rugby to more developing communities in South-East Asia.